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NYC Foodies, Get Thee to New Jersey


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For the amount of money it costs to buy, maintain and insure a car in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you can dine at very nice places like Per Se and hire limos to take you to and from Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  And you have quite a few more hours of free time in your life when you don't have to drive around looking for parking spaces (or deal with the unmitigated horror known as alternate side of the street parking). 

So, is the food in Edison really worth all that?

To be fair, I don't think FG (or anyone else) was suggesting that everyone should go out and buy a car to sample the best eats in NJ. Moreso, that those with access to cars have an opportunity to sample some places that they may not have thought about given the negative attitude a lot of people have to NJ. Additionally, areas like Ironbound (for Brazilian/Portugese) are easily accessable via Publc transportation and are no more difficult or time consuming to get to than the outer boroughs for those interested in a cuisine that may be a specialty to the area that may be as good as or better than what is available in Manhattan.

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That's a red herring because you can just take the train to Edison (49 minutes), or have a friend with a car take you. And yes it's worth making the trip, which is why I've done it so many times and which is why Moksha is full of Indians who've come from far and wide for a taste of Bangalore and the surrounding regions.

If your premise is that NYC residents are lazy and Jerseyphobic, it's an awfully weak argument if a single Indian restaurant an hour away is the best you can come up with. Most of the other examples given thus far are of the "cheap eats" variety. I don't think I'm lazy because I decline to rent a car and travel 2 hours roundtrip so that I can have a terrific $8 bowl of noodles somewhere.
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You guys are hilarious! Is it really that hard to drive over to Jersey to explore some exciting new places? FG's not exactly asking you to move there and raise a family for goodness sake. I wouldn't even mind renting a car and heading over there for the day, just so I could whine about how bad it was. But what if it were a great trip? Next time I come up north I'm forcing Weinoo to get his car out of the lot and drive us over there. I'll pay for gas you cheap bastard. F*ck New Jersey indeed.

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Foodies in Los Angeles think nothing of driving all over their massive metropolitan area for a good meal. Yet foodies in New York City rarely venture to nearby restaurants in Northern New Jersey -- many of which are significantly closer to Manhattan than Totonno's or Nathan's.

Fat Guy:

There are big differences between the food cultures of New York and New Jersey that could discourage people from making the trip.

First and foremost, the ethnic food culture of New York City revolves around restaurants, you go there for a meal. And while you can get some great meals in New Jersey, what makes the trip worth it is the grocery markets.

Immigrants or otherwise, people here (I live in Edison) cook at home far more than they did when they lived in the city and ethnic communities are geared for this.

Indeed, while there are some very interesting regional Indian places on Oak Tree Road, the people that dine there have visited first to buy groceries and household goods, and then stop off for a meal.

The story is repeated over and over again. The Great Wall Supermarket - one of the best Chinese grocers in the State, isn't even in what a New Yorker would call a Chinese neighborhood. In Ironbound, okay restaurants mingle with great stores.

If you're a serious home cook, with a pantry large enough to stock ingredients, a trip to New Jersey is in order. But for dining by itself, I'd be hard pressed convince anybody to visit anything beyond Ironbound, Oak Tree Road, or Mitsuwa.

Brian Yarvin

My Webpage

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I'd be hard pressed convince anybody to visit anything beyond Ironbound, Oak Tree Road, or Mitsuwa.

That's a great start. I think it would be great if we could get New York foodies just to those three destinations.

Empirically, however, I disagree with your assessment of the Oak Tree Road dining scene. I've personally spoken to plenty of customers who've come for destination dining. Several restaurant managers have confirmed this. Have you seen the parking lot outside Moghul on a weekend night? Those people aren't stopping by after shopping. That's an Indian-American destination-dining mob scene you're seeing there, drawing from all over the region.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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That's a red herring because you can just take the train to Edison (49 minutes), or have a friend with a car take you. And yes it's worth making the trip, which is why I've done it so many times and which is why Moksha is full of Indians who've come from far and wide for a taste of Bangalore and the surrounding regions.

If your premise is that NYC residents are lazy and Jerseyphobic, it's an awfully weak argument if a single Indian restaurant an hour away is the best you can come up with. Most of the other examples given thus far are of the "cheap eats" variety. I don't think I'm lazy because I decline to rent a car and travel 2 hours roundtrip so that I can have a terrific $8 bowl of noodles somewhere.

The threshold for a destination-worthy restaurant is different for everybody. I personally don't think twice about a two-hour round trip for a best-in-class bowl of noodles, and the price of the dish to me has little to do with its destination-worthiness. (I'll skip the part where I reiterate the arguments about combining it with shopping, being able to use public transportation, two million cars, etc.). If that kind of culinary adventuring is not your cup of tea, so be it. I'll try not to be disappointed.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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One of the great things about EGullet is that there are ALL kinds of food discussed, reviewed, and given respect. Even hot dogs, which happens to be my favorite food. What I'm trying to say is I appreciate that what is considered cheap and fast food by many is readily discussed here and that it is recognized by members that there is indeed a hot dog culture in our area.

I live in New Jersey where I've had an opportunity to sample hot dogs from well over 100 different hot dog establishments. I've gone on my own and as part of a team in the summer of 2006 where we went to 87 places to review hot dogs for a newspaper. I also run a big annual hot dog tour as well as smaller ones. I've been to other states, including New York to sample hot dogs. In addition, I've had hot dogs from all over the country sent to me to sample.

It is my opinion that New Jersey is the hot dog capital of the world. We have high quality commercial brands produced here. We also have many small European style butcher shops making high quality hot dogs. New Jersey has numerous styles or types of hot dogs. Kosher or kosher style franks. German style beef and pork franks. Italian Hot Dogs, which originated and are unique to Jersey. Texas Weiners, despite the name and spelling originated in Jersey. Deep fried dogs. Dirty water dogs. All prepared a number of different ways. And great homemade toppings and condiments.

New York also has good hot dogs and along with Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois (specifically Chicago) are the best states for hot dogs. But if you are talking about New York City, there is much less variety than there is in Jersey or even the rest of New York state. Although that is changing. In Manhattan, you now have places (Crif's) that serve deep fried dogs Jersey style. And others that will serve a German style dog containing pork. Hallo Berlin and F&B are 2 examples. In northern New York, especially the Hudson Valley, you have a number of places serving excellent chili dogs, which are similar to New Jersey's Texas Weiners. In New York they are called Coney Island dogs (although different than Nathan's in style) or Texas Weiners. There are also "White Hots" popular in the Rochester area, made of pork and veal.

I'm sorry for getting off on a tangent. Back to New Jersey. As requested by Steven, I'll name one or two hot dog restaurants in each style. For those of you who are interested in reading a review of the 87 hot dog joints I went to last summer, check out this link: http://roadfood.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC...40&whichpage=17

Go to where each place is specifically numbered and start reading there. There are a lot of posts in between which you might want to skip.

Although there are so many different and unique hot dog joints, I like to recognize 6 styles. And there are even sub styles. For example you can get a deep fried dog at many places. Most use a pork based dog formulated especially for deep frying. But there are also places that deep fry a quality all beef dog. The styles described here are 1)Grilled all beef dogs. 2) Grilled German style pork and beef. 3) Boiled, or dirty water dogs. 4) Deep fried dogs 5) Chili dogs or Texas Weiners 6) Newark or Italian Style Hot Dogs.

Although I'll only name 2 for each style, there are easily more that can be named.

1) Grilled all beef. These dogs, preferably with a natural casing are spicy with garlic and paprika dominating. The best dog in this style for years was at a place called Syd's which is now gone. Better, in my opinion, than any all beef dog from anywhere. But this same dog is still available at one place in Jersey. That place is Jimmy Buff's on Rt 10 in East Hanover. This dog is a great size, 5 to a lb, about 10 inches long with a great flavor and blend of spices. Made by Best Provisions of Newark. It is prepared a unique way, heated in oil, then chargrilled. At Syd's it was boiled, then grilled. You can get it this way if you prefer. If I had to pick one favorite dog out of the many I sampled, this would be it. It's worth going because, in my opinion, there is no better dog. That is also the opinion of many people from New York who have tasted this dog.

My second choice would be Boulevard Drinks on Kennedy Boulevard (Journal Square) in Jersey City. They use they same recipe dog as Papaya King in N.Y. It is an all beef Sabrett that is prepared on a hot griddle. Although Sabrett is considered a New York dog, the company began in Jersey City, N.J. on Coles and Henderson St. The dogs were made there until the company was sold to Marathon Enterprises. Boulevard Drinks, which is in essence the same dog as Papaya King, preceded it by 2 years. Opened in 1937 while Papaya King didn't start serving hot dogs until 1939. This dog is slightly spicier than the Best's dog served at Jimmy Buff's. Some may prefer this one. It is also a little more oily/greasy due to being griddle fried. You can get here from N.Y. by train. I think the Path Train goes to Journal Square.

2) Grilled German style pork and beef. These frankfurters are have a milder flavor profile than the more well seasoned kosher or jewish style franks listed above. Like comparing apples and oranges. I like both styles. Some people who grew up on the beef dogs consider these to be bland. Others who grew up on the German style consider the beef dogs to be too spicy. The best in this style is at a Karl Ehmer's store in Hillsdale, N.J. The store has a cart outside that grills hot dogs, bratwurst, and other sausages. What is important to note is that the German stlye beef and pork dog served here is NOT made by Karl Ehmers. The beef dogs and other sausages are, but this particular dog is made by Kocher Continental Meats in Ridgefield Park, N.J. This small butcher shop supplies franks to around 40 establishments. The people who run Karl Ehmer's are not happy that this particular franchise (in Hillsdale) uses a frank other than Karl Ehmer's. But a better beef and pork frank you will not find. This and Thumann's griller are the 2 best German style dogs. At Ehmer's it comes on a potato roll with Bauer's mustard. You can also get sauerkraut if you wish. Served hot on a griddle from a cart. One delicious hot dog. As close as you will get to a frankfurter served in Germany.

Another great dog in this style is from the Galloping Hill Inn in Union. If travelling by car, it is right off exit 138 on the Garden State Parkway. This dog is made by Grote & Weigel, a Connecticut meat packer, to a special recipe. This recipe was originally made in Union, N.J. by a German butcher. The butcher shop was sold and the recipe was taken by the owners and given to Grote & Weigel to be made for them. In the course of an afternoon, no one sells more hot dogs in Jersey. Over 3000 per day. One place, the Hot Grill sells more, but they are open until 1 AM. This is a flavorful dog, similar to the Kocher's frank. It is served on a harder, football shaped bun. Many consider this dog to be the best in the state. People from the Hudson Valley who attend the Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour like this dog better than any other.

3) Boiled or dirty water dogs. There are numerous carts, trucks, and restaurants that serve the popular natural casing Sabrett dirty water style. What makes one stand out from another to most people are the toppings. Most of the time I get a beef dog with just mustard, so I judge or differentiate based on a) if the the dog has a skin or casing. Skin is better than skinless. b) size. Anything smaller than 10 to a lb is too small. c) temperature. Many places serve the dogs warm or barely warm. They should be hot.

Some places use a brand other than Sabrett. I love Sabrett, but my 2 favorite dirty water dogs are made by different companies. My favorite dog in this style is found at Jerry's Famous Frankfurters on Elizabeth and 2nd Ave. in Elizabeth. It's a small walkup storefront. The brand is Best, which I prefer to Sabrett. The dog is 8 to a lb with a prefect snap. It is prepared a unique way, boiled and then finished off in a steel compartment for a minute or 2 for added crunch. By far the best dirty water dog I've had. I've eaten more dogs in my life from Jerry's than anywhere else.

Another good choice is Tony's Truck on Park and Lake Ave. in Newark right outside of Branch Brook Park. Right off Bloomfield Ave. which is a main drag. Tony's is my favorite truck. They serve a natural casing Golden D brand dog which is a little less spicy (paprika and garlic) than Sabrett, but a little more smoky. A very good dog on it's own, but Tony's is very popular for their hot onions. I don't eat them myself but people love them. They also serve a very good chili.

4) Deep Fried. Perhaps the most well known hot dog restaurant in New Jersey is Rutt's Hut. Opened in the late 1920's, they are known for their deep fried, pork based dogs. They use a dog from Thumann's that is specifically made for deep frying. Others in North Jersey use this same dog. What sets Rutt's apart are a few things. The dogs are prepared to different degrees of doneness. An in-n-outer is fried just enough to be eaten. Most other places that serve this dog prepare it this way. A ripper is left in the oil until the skin rips. If you just order a hot dog, this is what you will get. A weller is well done and my favorite. A cremator is almost black. I wouldn't get it this way, though some love it. Rutt's is also different than others in that they fry their dogs in beef tallow. A dog fried in beef tallow just tastes better. I don't care about trans fats. I think there is too much hysteria over it. I like Coke with real sugar too. Years ago, McDonald's fried their french fries in beef tallow and they were better. Rutt's also has a unique homemade mustard relish that goes great with this particular dog. My favorite hot dog condiment other than mustard. Perfect for a milder, pork based dog, which is what Rutt's is. Those of you familiar with Crif Dogs may or may not know that they were patterned after Rutt's Hut. They use the same dog and deep fry it. Pretty good knockoff. The owners were also smart enough to realize that this type of dog may be an aquired taste for many. So they also offer a grilled beef dog (aso from Thumann's) that they call the New Yorker.

For a deep fried beef dog, 2 places stand out. Jimmy Buff's, which was mentioned earlier for their grilled dog, and Amazing Hot Dog. Buff's, which originated the Italian or Newark Style Hot dog, has 3 locations. Only the East Hanover location serves other than Italian Hot Dogs. Here you have a choice of an 8 to a lb or a 5 to a lb all beef dog from Best Provisions that is fried in a tilted steel pan. This pan is what's used to fry the ingredients that make up an Italian Hot Dog. These dogs are excellent fried. Frying really brings out the unique spices in this particular dog. They have a tasty bolognese type chili that you can top your dog with.

Amazing Hot Dog, on Bloomfield Ave. in Verona also uses the Best Provisions dog. But it is a hefty 4 to a lb frank. It is prepared in a deep fryer. What sets Amazing apart from other places are the variety and number of toppings that you can get to put on your dog. In addition to the more traditional toppings, you can get bacon, a fried egg, scallions, sambal, and other combinations. Although most of the time I prefer just mustard on a beef dog, I have enjoyed the Reuben Dog. The toppings are homemade by one of the owners who is a trained chef.

5) Chili dogs and/or Texas Weiners. In N.J. a Texas Weiner is a hot dog that has mustard, onions, and chili. In the north part of the state, the dogs are deep fried and have a thinner chili sauce. Invented by Greeks, this sauce has cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. It may be a aquired taste. In the central part of the state, Texas Weiners are often grlled, with a thicker chili. A true Texas Weiner is made from pork and beef. A chili dog has any kind of chili, and you can get it anywhere. It could be an all beef dog from a truck with a tomatoey background rather than the Texas weiner type which many refer to as "gingerbread cookie chili". Many places serving a chili dog make a very spicy chili.

My favorite Texas Weiner is from Pappy's Diner in Totowa. North Jersey style, they use the Thumann's dog for deep frying. Similar to Libby's and the Hot Grill in style, but I prefer the chili from Pappy's. It has a great blend of sweet and sour spices with a pleasant lingering heat in the background. Like many Texas Weiner joints, they sell their chili to go.

Father & Son Luncheonette is located on rt 27, or St Georges Ave. in Linden. They serve an all beef Grote & Weigel frank that is prepared on a griddle. Their chili is spicy and very hot. About as hot as I can stand, but I have to be in the mood for it. This place was included twice on the New Jersey Hot Dog Tour, both in their old location and after moving. Wildly popular, almost everyone bought chili from here to take home. If you like hot and spicy, you will love these dogs.

6) Italian Hot Dogs. Also called Newark style after their city of origin. This style of hot dog was invented in 1932 by a man named Jim Raccioppi. He served these dogs for friends at their card games. They became so popular that his friends came over just for the hot dogs. He decided to go into business and opened the first Jimmy Buff's. He used to bluff at poker, so his friends called him Jimmy Bluff which somehow became Jimmy Buff. An Italian Hot Dog is a sandwich that starts with pizza bread. This is bread made from left over pizza dough that has been baked in an oven and resembles a pita. You can get a single or double, depending on how many hot dogs you want. Most order a double. The dogs, which are all beef and usually from Best Provisions (made in Newark where this sandwich was born) are fried or sauteed in oil. Jimmy Buff's and others use a tilted steel pan where the dogs are fried in, while peppers, onions, and potato slices are kept on the elevated part until needed. Others prepare the ingredients in a deep fryer. The dog(s) are stuffed into the pizza bread and topped with mustard, onions, peppers, and potato slices. Some put ketchup on top of the potatoes. Like the Cheesesteak is a Philadelphia original, the Italian Hot Dog is a Jersey original. Probably my favorite thing to eat. Many pizzerias make this sandwich. But most of them serve what I call a bastardized version, meaning they use sub or hoagie rolls rather than circular pizza bread. And french fries rather than potatoes sliced thin or in chunks. Some Italian Hot Dog restaurants, most notably Dickie Dees, serves the potatoes in chunks. Many pizzerias also grill, rather than fry everything.

There are a half dozen places that specialize in Italian Hot Dogs that I would put in the upper echelon. You can read about them elsewhere. Here I will mention 2. Jimmy Buffs, which is the original. There have been various locations over the years; now there are 3. East Hanover, the newest, and the only one that serves other types of hot dogs, West Orange, and Scotch Plains. East Hanover and West Orange locations are owned by Jim Raccioppi, grandson of the founder, while the Scotch Plains store is owned by Jim's uncle Mike, nephew of the founder. The sandwiches are similar, though those at Scotch Plains have a little more oils. Jimmy Buff's serves the original and archetypal Italian Hot Dog sandwich.

Tommy's in Elizabeth serves a great Italian Hot Dog as well. They are located on Elizabeth and 2nd Ave. 2 doors away from Jerry's Famous Frankfurters, which was mentioned earlier. Very close in taste and quality to Jimmy Buff's. Tommy's bread is softer, and potatoes are sliced thinner. These are the 2 best places, in my opinion, to get an authentic Italian Hot Dog.

John the hot dog guy

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First, let me point out the absurdity of someone with the moniker of "Fat Guy" calling anyone lazy.

Secondly, while I understand the need for you to try and keep eGullet relevant, if you wanted a pot stirring issue to get the traffic flowing, at least pick one that can actually foster a true debate.

Finally, can we please move away from the term "foodie", which has to be one of the most cringe worthy terms out there. Why is there a need to attach a term or label to something one enjoys, just enjoy it.

Before you lean over your keyboard, let me present my credentials. I was born and raised in Manhattan. After getting married a year and a half ago I had to move to my wife's house in Teaneck, until her son finished high school out there and we could move back to the City. Thankfully, he switched out this year to a City school and we will be moving back to Manhattan shortly.

Prior to my move and through out my time there, I did exhaustive research on where to go and dragged my poor wife to restaurants, markets and food stalls of every type. Any time I heard about a prospect I went, an Indian place here, a woman selling homemade Kimchi out of her liquor store there.

While there certainly is some very good food in New Jersey, the notion that it is good enough that a New Yorker should be deemed lazy for not making the trip is asinine, so much so, that I suspect you do not believe it yourself.

You would have had a much more spirited and legitimate debate had you raised the issue of how few Manhattan residents explore the wealth of great food in the other 4 boroughs.

The one legitimate destination place I would point out is Mitsuwa in Edgewater. That is a unique experience that cannot be duplicated in the City. I have been making trips there for years.

Do I enjoy a ripper at Rutt's Hut? Of course, and when I have to drive within the vicinity of it, I will be sure to stop in. Am I making a special trip to go there? Are you joking?

Great Korean markets and food? I'll take the subway a couple of stops to K-town.

Axia Taverna, the Mehtani's restaurants, Sakura Bana, China 46 (before it closed), some Newark locations, sure, all good. Worth a special trip and traffic? unable to be equaled and or surpassed in Manhattan or Queens, Bronx or Brooklyn? Spare me. I believe someone else here mentioned that there is a tendency to exaggerate when good food is to be found in NJ and I can attest to that being true. To hear the way some people wax poetic about these places you would think you are in for some unique experience. Perhaps, if you live in Binghamton or some other City with a limited diversity of cuisine. However New York is blessed, and there is no apology necessary for not crawling up the FDR or through the Tunnel to seek out that which NJ has to offer.

There is a tendency to stereotype all Manhattan people as anti-Jersey, which is ridiculous. Some parts of the state are beautiful, there are some great farms, good hunting, horseback riding and Revolutionary war history. However, when it comes to food and the notion that residents in NYC are missing out, the debate is not worth the time I have wasted typing this response.

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the more I think about it...I realized the problem with the car issue. FG is assuming that cars are distributed equally throughout Manhattan. they're not. people in my demographic generally don't have them or have access to them. transplants are the majority of the city (as are people under 40) and without family in the area, we have little need of road trips. other than the Hamptons or Fire Island in the summer (and driving there on the weekend at primetime is the height of stupidity), we fly to Europe or South America more often than we go outside of NYC in the tri-state area.

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One major enticement I'd throw out is that dining out in NJ can be a great value because so many of our restaurants are BYO (wine/beer). Every time I go to Blu in Montclair, for instance, I am blown away by Chef Zod's cooking and presentation, and with a ridiculously large tip, it's still hard to spend more than $50pp. I don't know of any restaurant in NYC where I can get that quality and calibre of food with wine for that price!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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One major enticement I'd throw out is that dining out in NJ can be a great value because so many of our restaurants are BYO (wine/beer).  Every time I go to Blu in Montclair, for instance, I am blown away by Chef Zod's cooking and presentation, and with a ridiculously large tip, it's still hard to spend more than $50pp.  I don't know of any restaurant in NYC where I can get that quality and calibre of food with wine for that price!

that's pointless once you throw in travel costs and time.

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One major enticement I'd throw out is that dining out in NJ can be a great value because so many of our restaurants are BYO (wine/beer).  Every time I go to Blu in Montclair, for instance, I am blown away by Chef Zod's cooking and presentation, and with a ridiculously large tip, it's still hard to spend more than $50pp.  I don't know of any restaurant in NYC where I can get that quality and calibre of food with wine for that price!

that's pointless once you throw in travel costs and time.

I agree. But from what I understand, the point of this thread is to let those NYC residents who might be interested in coming to NJ to eat know some of our favorite places and reasons to try them. Maybe some New Yorkers know people in NJ who are sick and tired of spending time and money to come to your beloved island every time you want to get together.

Edited by request

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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One major enticement I'd throw out is that dining out in NJ can be a great value because so many of our restaurants are BYO (wine/beer).  Every time I go to Blu in Montclair, for instance, I am blown away by Chef Zod's cooking and presentation, and with a ridiculously large tip, it's still hard to spend more than $50pp.  I don't know of any restaurant in NYC where I can get that quality and calibre of food with wine for that price!

that's pointless once you throw in travel costs and time.

I agree. But from what I understand, the point of this thread is to let those NYC residents who might be interested in coming to NJ to eat know some of our favorite places and reasons to try them. Maybe some New Yorkers know people in NJ who are sick and tired of spending time and money to come to your beloved island every time you want to get together. Nobody says YOU need to cross the river. Why do you bother posting on this thread if that's how you feel?

you said cheaper prices were an "enticement"...they're not because it's not cheaper.

(as for the unrelated topic of NY'ers always expecting their friends to travel here (or Manhattan residents expecting their Brooklyn friends to come into the city)...there's a lot of truth to that accusation. our self-serving justification is that we have to pay far more to live here))

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Former NJ person here. Can't say I blame anyone from NY for not venturing into NJ for a meal when there are so many great options closer to home. Maybe it is lazy, but adding a commute along with the extra time and expense to get a meal just never appealed to me. An "expedition" for lunch that tied in with another activity usually appealed to me. I've driven to Philly just to get a sandwich at Dinic's and planned trips to Maine around lobster. Dinner needs to be less stressful, which means close to home for me. Once I moved from NY to NJ we only ventured back to visit family. Didn't miss it at all! NYers who never make to to NJ for a meal will live happily ever after. This might mean I'm not a die hard foodie, but the easier it is to get to and back from any great meal, the better.

KathyM

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Mr. Cutlets ridicules the premise of this thread on Grub Street.

Since Grub Street has multiple authors and the piece was unsigned and in the second person, we can't say for sure that Mr. Cutlets wrote it, but he probably did. In any event, I thought the primary target of ridicule was the inability of a few folks to let go of the car point:

The responses poured in — but true to our reputation for self-obsession, the only part of Shaw’s post that made any impression on New Yorkers was his rather dubious assertion that a majority of us own cars.

Of course, I never made an assertion. I cited statistics. A majority of New York City households do have cars, and about a quarter of Manhattan households do. Apparently the percentage is lower on some people's miniature home planets within the city. In any event, it's a red herring. There's public transportation to many of the key places in New Jersey (e.g., Mitsuwa, which people seem to agree is a worthy destination, even as they deny that there are any worthy destinations).

Grub Street then goes on to make the risible assertion that because Mr. Cutlets once wrote 150 words on restaurants near Newark Airport, and because unnamed members of the Grub Street staff have unspecified "serious roots" in New Jersey, that they have the requisite expertise to declare "when it comes to eating and eating well, a New Yorker would be nuts to cross the river just for a meal." (Unless, of course, it's to write about restaurants in Newark.) Yeah, I take that a lot more seriously than I take John's post.

The piece concludes:

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson: When a man is tired of New York, he is tired of food; for there is in New York all that food can afford. Only in the tomb, or Heaven’s bright shore, can such a jaded appetite find peace.

Spoken like people who have never traveled. I assume the Grub Street folks have traveled and don't believe a word they're saying -- that it's just posturing -- but just in case they really are so sheltered that they believe "there is in New York all that food can afford," I'm going to issue a challenge:

On 26 January 2008, my van will be waiting at 11am at a location to be announced, near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. I have a seven-passenger van. Passenger number one will be me, the driver. Passenger number two will be my bulldog, Momo. Passenger number three will be a delegate from Grub Street, if Grub Street accepts the challenge. We'll see if a neutral member of the press wants to join for the purposes of coverage, so that may be one seat. The other three or four seats will be distributed by lottery to eGullet Society members.

We'll start with the South Indian lunch buffet at Moksha in Edison. We'll eat from the buffet so nobody can accuse me of rigging the meal. We'll have some desserts at Mithaas. If I can get somebody from the Mehtani Group to show us around the other properties (Moghul, Ming) we'll do that. We'll take a quick spin on Oak Tree Road and then we'll head north. We'll visit a few ethnic mega-stores, probably Super H-Mart, Foodmart International and Mitsuwa. Then, having had some time to digest, we'll descend upon White Manna. And after that, if the group can handle it, we'll hit a hot dog place selected by John.

If the answer to the question "Are these places unique and/or superior to the comparable New York City experiences" is yes, then everybody goes online and eats crow. If I fail to convince you, at least you got to spend a day in New Jersey with Momo.

I'll post all the details and criteria on a planning topic in early January.

Edited by Fat Guy (log)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Have you seen the parking lot outside Moghul on a weekend night? Those people aren't stopping by after shopping. That's an Indian-American destination-dining mob scene you're seeing there, drawing from all over the region.

Fat Guy:

I'm just very dubious when it comes to convincing New Yorkers that there is something worthwhile here. I believe you though. Indeed, as a professional food writer and photographer, I could think of few better places to live.

Despite my hesitation, my location in the thick of things would also make me a perfect host for those people who did want to come out. So...if anybody is interested in visiting these areas, I'd be happy to provide the local knowledge and lead the way.

Brian Yarvin

My Webpage

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On 26 January 2008, my van will be waiting at 11am at a location to be announced, near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. I have a seven-passenger van. Passenger number one will be me, the driver. Passenger number two will be my bulldog, Momo. Passenger number three will be a delegate from Grub Street, if Grub Street accepts the challenge. We'll see if a neutral member of the press wants to join for the purposes of coverage, so that may be one seat. The other three or four seats will be distributed by lottery to eGullet Society members.

Shit, I was hoping Momo would drive.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I've come a long way

I've gone 500 miles today

I've come a long way

And never even left L.A.

-Michelle Shocked

Foodies in Los Angeles think nothing of driving all over their massive metropolitan area for a good meal. Yet foodies in New York City rarely venture to nearby restaurants in Northern New Jersey -- many of which are significantly closer to Manhattan than Totonno's or Nathan's.[...]

How often do most Manhattanites go to Coney Island to dine? I haven't done that in several years. I do go to Flushing a few times a year to go to my favorite Chinese restaurant, Spicy & Tasty -- which I was exposed to in the first place because I used to work near Flushing -- but first of all, that takes me a total of about 1 hour 15 minutes to get to, door to door, as compared to a considerably longer time it would take me to get to Penn Station, buy a ticket, wait for a train, take a 40-minute train to Edison, get a taxi to Noksha, etc., etc. (not to mention the greater expense involved), and secondly, it makes me unusual among Manhattanites. I think the fact that I like to go to the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens is itself quite unusual for a Manhattanite and owes a lot to my parents having grown up in that part of Brooklyn and taking me there when I was a child. Over a decade ago, I used to date a woman who lived in Edison, and when I was there for the weekend, we often had South Indian food in Edison and really enjoyed it. That's the kind of thing it would take for me to eat out in Edison again.

And by the way, I don't think your premise about Angelinos is quite correct. My cousin lives in Venice. In the summer of 2005, we had a fantastic dim sum lunch at CBS Seafood Restaurant in LA's Chinatown at the recommendation of rjwong. But as much as my cousin loved our meal, she hadn't been back since then, because it's such an awful drive for her to get downtown and so inconvenient to her work and personal schedule and routes.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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i haven't noticed anyone from NJ getting down on NJ for any reason other than the food, relative to NYC.  i would think those who live in NJ know it's a dandy place on many levels.  otherwise they very likely wouldn't live there. 

i agree that white manna and the ironbound, while possibly interesting on a cultural level, do not make for 2-hour-commute-worthy meals.[...]

The trip to Newark actually is quite a bit less than an hour each way, for those who live near the World Trade Center PATH station. That trip takes 22 minutes. And there are several subways that stop nearby. I could definitely imagine going to Newark for a particularly great churrascaria experience. Truthfully, for me, though, that WOULD be about 1 hour each way, when the subway trip is combined with the PATH.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'll ante up a NJ restaurant -- Cucharamama in Hoboken.  It may not be focused on any particular Latin American cuisine (though it *is* decidedly South American in focus, with an emphasis on Peru), but the menu is loaded with winners, from the tapas-style plates to the wood-burning oven entrees to the inventive desserts (and even don't get me started on the dozen or more piscos behind the bar).  I don't know if there's a restaurant like it in NYC -- maybe there is, maybe there isn't, but I do think it's worth a trip across the Hudson.

Christopher

Hoboken is really easy and quick to get to from Port Authority. But I guess it's close to the PATH station than to Washington Av.? How do you get there from the station (or the bus)?

Their menu looks great!

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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